by Brian Walsh
Let’s talk about two bills that have been before the Parliament of Canada.
Today, the Federal government passed Bill S-7 which amends the Criminal Code to give the state escalated powers to hold people without charge if they are suspected of conspiring towards a terrorist act. That the bill was pushed into the House this week is, of course, just a tad cynical. I mean, who would want to limit the state’s power to combat terrorism in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing last week, and the arrest this week of two men accused of conspiring a terrorist attack on a Via train.
Now consider another piece of proposed legislation. Liberal MP John McKay put forward Bill C-300 a couple of years back: “The Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act.” This bill would have imposed sanctions on Canadian mining companies when they engaged in unethical behaviour in other countries. This bill was defeated in the Fall of 2010, and I simply note in passing that then Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, made a point of not being in the House for that important vote.
Bill C-300 wanted to find a way to insist that Canadian businesses who engaged in environmentally destructive mining, unsafe and oppressive working conditions, and even murder, would be somehow held accountable in Canada.
Let’s be clear about something here. Both of these Acts are about protection. The one that passed was about limiting personal liberties in order to protect Canadian citizens and society. The one that was defeated was about limiting certain corporate liberties in order to protect citizens, society and the environment of other nations. Read the rest of this entry »